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Art Kane’s 1958 ‘A Great Day in Harlem’ Recreated to Celebrate Black Animation Professionals

Nickelodeon Animation and Paramount Pictures’ photoshoot, inspired by the iconic photo, honors 55 creators, story artists, animators, directors, and executives and their lasting contributions to the industry.

In a nod to the diversity and impact of Black Animation professionals, Nickelodeon Animation and Paramount Pictures hosted a photo shoot inspired by Art Kane’s iconic 1958 photo, “A Great Day in Harlem.” The new photo pays homage to 55 outstanding creators, story artists, animators, directors, and executives who have devoted their careers to the craft of animation and whose contributions have left a lasting impression on the industry. The gathering took place on the Paramount backlot on Sunday, June 5, 2022.

Marlon West (Encanto, Moana, Frozen) introduced the idea of recreating the iconic portrait to Nickelodeon, then enlisted the help of his friends Bruce Smith (Bebe’s Kids, Proud Family), Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), and Everett Downing (We the People, Hair Love). Nickelodeon’s Camille Eden, Vice President, Recruitment, Talent Development and Outreach, and her team--Robbie Siron, Sharon Wen, Trishawn Ellis, and Victor Nwaopara spearheaded the execution.

The gathering of animation talent spanning multiple generations served as a reunion for some and an introduction for others. But, more than a simple photo shoot, it was an acknowledgment of the Black creative community, a discussion of how the original 1958 photo inspired many who were in attendance and how they too will be an inspiration to young people in the Black community. 

(Pictured above: Aaron Spurgeon, Abelle Hayford, Ayo Davis, Breana Williams, Brie E Henderson, Bruce W. Smith, Camille Eden, Carole Holliday, Chris Copeland, Chrystin Garland, Constance Allen, Deborah Anderson, Devin Crane, Eric, Ramsey, Everett Downing Jr., Floyd Norman, Frank Abney, Jay Francis, Justin Copeland, Kaela Lash, Kai Akira, Karen Toliver, Kelley Gardner, Kemp Powers, Kenny Thompkins, Kwesi Davis, Latoya Raveneau, Layron DeJarnette, Lennie Graves, Lenord Robinson, Leo D. Sullivan, Leo Sullivan Jr., Lyndon Barrois Jr., Lynne Southerland, Maimuna Venzant, Marcella Brown, Marlon West, Marshall Toomey, Morenike Dosu, Peter Ramsey, Pixote Hunt, Ralph Farquhar, Reginald Hudlin, Robert Tyler, Ron Husband, Ron Myrick, Shabrayia Cleaver, Shari B. Ellis, Shavonne Cherry, Shay Stone, Sidney Clifton, Swinton Scott, Tara Nicole Whitaker, Tyree Dillihay, Umaimah Damakk)

Source: Nickelodeon

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is assistant news editor at Animation World Network.